By Faithfulness Keep Living
“But as for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.”—Hab. 2:4.
1. What is expected of those in God’s organization, and what does He provide for them?
THE faithful God whose name is Jehovah has a place for all lovers of righteousness in his organization. Of course, those who accept his gracious invitation find that along with it there is much work to be done. A variety of assignments must be cared for. But in accepting such an assignment no one should underestimate God’s power to assist the person to carry out the responsibility and work involved. And, as is necessary, God can provide the needed instruction, discipline and training.—Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12:18.
2. Faithfulness is closely related to what, making what necessary on the part of those serving Jehovah?
2 What does this demonstrate? Faithfulness on the part of Jehovah and his insistence that all those he approves also prove faithful. Faithfulness is closely related to God’s righteousness, which is one of the attractive features of the kingdom of God. (Matt. 6:33) So it is necessary for those who are seeking that kingdom and who are putting it first in their lives to live in accord with Jehovah’s righteous standards. They must put away their old unrighteous personalities and put on new personalities that are “created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” Then, by their conduct, they will reflect the righteousness of their holy God Jehovah.—Eph. 4:23, 24; Col. 3:5-14.
3. How may those faithful and dependable be contrasted with those not faithful?
3 Necessary changes take place over a period of time in the lives of those who will keep living under God’s arrangement. They must keep on growing in accurate knowledge until they are no longer “tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men.” Or, as the line of the old song has it, they are no longer “faithless as the winds or seas.” Instead, they “become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord,” faithful and dependable in any assignment given.—Eph. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:58.
4. How is one’s faithfulness demonstrated?
4 Such steadfast worshipers of Jehovah appreciate the importance of living within the safe bounds established by their God. It is a matter of not just knowing the right way to live, but actual performance of the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, the faithful living up to his laws, his standard of righteousness.—Jas. 4:17.
GOD’S FAITHFUL WATCHCARE OVER HIS PEOPLE
5. What assurance from the Scriptures do we have that Jehovah watches over his people?
5 The faithful God Jehovah can be counted on to look after and care for those who are devoted to him. He observes all “the sons of men,” both “the bad ones and the good ones,” but, especially, “the eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.” (Ps. 11:4; Prov. 15:3; Ps. 34:15) Confirming this, King David also wrote: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.”—Ps. 37:25.
6, 7. (a) Where do we find evidence that Jehovah observed the faithfulness of men and women in the past? (b) What were some outstanding qualities of these faithful ones of old?
6 As evidence that Jehovah took notice of those faithful to him in times past he gives us some of their names. For example, there is a list of a few of these in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. This condensed account vividly describes some of the things these righteous ones went through in order to prove their faithfulness. They knew Jehovah to be their helper. What others said or did failed to strike them with paralyzing fear or turn them aside from serving Jehovah faithfully. They endured all kinds of trials and persecutions, and “the world was not worthy of them.” But they were most precious in God’s sight and memory and they will be fully rewarded by the resurrection in which they hoped.—Heb. 11:38.
7 They worked at building up a good record and a righteous standing before God. One of the outstanding qualities displayed by those witnesses of old was their dynamic energy, their zeal for what was right. One is also impressed with the faith, loyalty and love that these men of old showed in their service to God. They held steadfast to what they knew to be God’s way of life. It is for our encouragement that the record of these men and women of faith from the past has been preserved until now.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11.
8. What other examples may be cited of those in the past who lived by faith?
8 Other examples of those in the past that kept living in a way that pleased Jehovah are Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. The apostle Paul’s companion Luke reports this about them: “They both were righteous before God because of walking blamelessly in accord with all the commandments and legal requirements of Jehovah.” And so in the course of time their prayers were answered, and Zechariah and his wife became the parents of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah.—Luke 1:5-13.
9. (a) Who were some of the faithful widows named in the Bible? (b) What lesson of faithfulness can we learn from the account in Mark 12:41-44?
9 Some widows of notable faith are mentioned by name in the Bible, such as Naomi, Ruth, Abigail and Anna the prophetess. Besides, after watching worshipers deposit money in the temple treasury chests, Jesus called the attention of his disciples to a particular widow whose name is not disclosed, saying: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow dropped in more than all those dropping money into the treasury chests; for they all dropped in out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, dropped in all of what she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:41-44) We do not know her by name, but she is mentioned with favor and her small contribution can teach us a lesson of faithfulness in support of true worship. The size of the contribution does not necessarily give a true picture of a giver’s generosity. This widow wanted to show her love for Jehovah and she did so in her modest way.
10. (a) Does the Bible’s record give the names, and list the deeds, of all of God’s faithful servants of the past? (b) So what can we learn from this?
10 Not everyone by any means who has proved faithful to Jehovah has had his name or his deeds preserved in the Bible’s record. Does this mean that Jehovah failed to observe their course of life or that their deeds of faithfulness are forgotten by him? No, not at all. Jehovah has been fully cognizant of all that they have said and done. Not one of those faithful ones who displayed integrity in their worship of the Most High God has been forgotten by the God of eternity. They too are part of the “so great a cloud of witnesses” that will be rewarded for their faithfulness with life in a new order. (Heb. 12:1) They too are fine examples for us to imitate. How so? In that what we do should not be “eyeservice as men pleasers” or for the plaudits or trophies of men.—Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:22; compare Matthew 6:1-4.
11, 12. What evidence is there that Jehovah was fully aware of all those faithful to him in the days of Elijah?
11 Some of these anonymous witnesses lived in the tenth century B.C.E. It was a time when Jehovah’s eyes proved to be very discerning of the ones pursuing his worship in the nation of Israel. At the time wicked Ahab and his wife Jezebel sponsored Baal worship in the land, and the prophet Elijah found it necessary to flee from them for his life. Hiding in a cave, he explained to Jehovah that he felt he was the sole worshiper of Jehovah in all Israel, the only one left who was jealous for Jehovah’s service. However, Jehovah corrected his thoughts on this, thus showing that He was aware of what was going on in the nation. There were many others besides this faithful prophet who did not approve of false worship.—1 Ki. 19:1-10, 18.
12 Discerning the good ones from the bad, Jehovah told Elijah that there were many, yes, seven thousand besides the prophet, who had not bent their knees to Baal nor kissed that detestable god. Kneeling before idols and kissing them as an act of adoration was strictly forbidden by Jehovah. (1 Ki. 19:14; Ex. 20:4, 5) Here again, although we are not provided with a lengthy list of their names, it is apparent that God knew them all, these thousands who proved righteous in holding on to true worship and avoiding being contaminated with false Baal worship, even though this put them in danger of being killed by wicked Jezebel.
13. How did a little unnamed Israelite girl prove her faithfulness to Jehovah?
13 Not many years after these events there lived “a little girl” who was taken captive by marauder bands of Syrians. We are not told what her name was, but Jehovah knows and he certainly will reward her for her deeds of faithfulness to him. Though a captive slave in a foreign land, yet she did not hesitate to bear witness to the wife of Naaman, the chief of the Syrian army, concerning the great power that her God Jehovah had demonstrated through his faithful prophet.—2 Ki. 5:1-4.
14. How was the apostle Paul’s nephew tested as to his faithfulness?
14 The son of the apostle Paul’s sister is not named either, but this young man reported to Paul, and then to the military commander, how a plot had been formed by more than forty men to kill his uncle Paul. The ambush was foiled by this quick action on the part of a faithful young man. Certainly Jehovah loves young ones like these who put the interests of God’s people ahead of their own interests. What a fine example for youth today faithfully to care for the Kingdom interests entrusted to them!—Acts 23:12-22.
15. Of what special benefit to us today are these Bible accounts?
15 It is a source of encouragement to read in the Bible the accounts of ancient examples of faithful living. For by examining those records we see how Jehovah bestowed upon his servants his love and watchcare. This, in turn, engenders in modern-day Witnesses a desire to serve the same ever-living God faithfully.
USING ONE’S RESOURCES FAITHFULLY
16, 17. (a) Corresponding to the “so great a crowd of witnesses” in ancient times, what do we find on earth today? (b) How do they demonstrate that they “keep living” by faithfulness?
16 Today out of all nations a “great crowd” of people is joining the “remnant” of the Lord’s brothers in preaching the Kingdom “good news” as foretold by Jesus Christ. (Rev. 7:9; Matt. 24:14) They have learned that there is much happiness in sharing the good things they now know with others. (Acts 20:35) This “crowd,” now numbering many hundreds of thousands, do not claim to have any miraculous abilities—only a sincere desire to serve Jehovah with their whole heart, mind and soul. Hence, with the little resources they possess, they are determined to advance the Kingdom interests.
17 Living near the outbreak of Har–Magedon with incomparable blessings of life to follow, these modern-day witnesses of Jehovah realize that it is no time to follow a course in life of least resistance. Rather, it is for them the time of all times, a period in which to use to the full their time, their limited resources and their natural abilities in God’s service. They know that bestowal of the miraculous gifts of the spirit passed away with the apostles in the first century. Hence, it is only by diligent study and application, and by taking advantage of all the educational arrangements provided by Jehovah, that these new ones can progress rapidly toward becoming fully equipped for the work at hand. This too they are eagerly doing.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
18, 19. (a) Where will you find today those that have the spirit of ancient King Hezekiah? (b) Cite examples.
18 One only has to visit any of the more than 32,000 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses to find living examples of those who today have the spirit of ancient King Hezekiah, as described in 2 Chronicles 31:21: “It was with all his heart that he acted, and he proved successful.” One congregation, for example, had the joy of observing the faithful endurance of a pioneer brother in his ninetieth year. He was serving as the field overseer besides, and was in constant attendance at the meetings. After devoting fifty-eight years in telling others the good news of the Kingdom, how happy he was to see the results of his work—some of his own “letters of recommendation” serving along with him in the same congregation!—2 Cor. 3:1-3.
19 If you will regularly go to the Kingdom Hall, in time you too will become personally acquainted with some of those who are tenaciously hanging on to the thread of life, persons who are using the twilight of their lifetime in praising their grand Creator and in helping others to know his name and purpose. They are persons who continue on giving of their little strength as day by day they live their life out in faithfulness, even until death. (Rev. 2:10) One Witness, expressing how she felt about growing old and becoming sick, regretted that she was getting to be a little forgetful and had a hard time keeping up with younger witnesses of Jehovah. But such ones can be comforted with the knowledge that they are continuing to be an example of faith and endurance for younger ones to follow. Like the apostle Paul, they can say, “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.”—1 Cor. 11:1.
20. What are some of the other problems that Witnesses must contend with in proving their faithfulness to Jehovah?
20 Many Witnesses have to overcome other obstacles besides the infirmities of old age as they pursue a course of faithfulness to Jehovah. Some have lost their physical eyesight. Others are plagued with hearing problems; still others are badly crippled in their limbs. Yet we find that they too are using their resources faithfully in Jehovah’s service as they “offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”—Heb. 13:15.
21. What ancient mode of travel is still very much employed by Jehovah’s faithful witnesses?
21 Not to be forgotten are the many Witnesses who for years have been going from door to door in the witness work, and have been doing so without benefit of transportation. Some old and faithful publishers are able to estimate how far they have walked in such field service, and they say that, in some cases, it amounts to as much as once around the earth or more. In their case the scripture seems quite appropriate that says: “How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”—Rom. 10:15.
KEEP LIVING IN APPRECIATION OF GOD’S RULERSHIP
22. After considering these accounts, a person is left with what impression?
22 In reviewing the life accounts of Jehovah’s faithful servants, a person is impressed by the fact that these men and women, both past and present, so much appreciated God’s sovereignty that they staked their lives in its defense. This shows us that the kind of people Jehovah desires to keep living are those who serve him because of their love for him and his righteous qualities. They love him first and foremost. (Matt. 22:37, 38) Those individuals who have endured much can honestly testify that they actually prefer God’s rulership over any other. One Witness expressed it this way: “I am thankful I had the years I did to serve Jehovah. I never regret one single minute of it, even though there were many trying times.”
23. In appreciation of Jehovah’s sovereignty, what is the attitude of Jehovah’s witnesses toward the political rulers of this world?
23 The champions for what is right and true and good always look to the supreme Lawgiver, keeping clearly in focus his laws and principles as applicable in their daily living. There is no other place they would rather be than inside Jehovah’s arrangement for his worshipers. (Ps. 84:10) They always find refreshment in going from house to house, looking for those who are praying for God’s kingdom to come, and for his righteous will to be done on earth, and who want to live forever under that perfect government. (Matt. 6:9, 10; John 17:3) Never would they be satisfied with the promises of an earthly politician, nor would they ever choose to have a human king over them. (Compare 1 Samuel 8:1-9.) At the point of dedication, these individuals decided to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty, and henceforth they have endeavored to make all their decisions revolve around that prior choice.
24. (a) How do people of the world often view the Witnesses? (b) But how only are the Witnesses able to maintain a perfectly clear conscience before God?
24 Such dedicated witnesses of Jehovah, knowing that they are responsible to the highest personage in the universe, the great Lawgiver and judge, must walk very carefully among the wicked of this generation. (Jas. 4:12) Although some persons may be puzzled at their firm stand for Bible principles, why should they ever deviate from the path of righteousness or even try to break, or perhaps bend, God’s laws for convenience’ sake? (1 Pet. 4:3-5) Surely the one who created all things has the right to be first in the lives of his people. He also is entitled to their worship and their implicit obedience. Their taking notice of the Sovereign Lord in all their thoughts and ways, will be very helpful to them in behaving before him with a perfectly clear conscience.—Prov. 3:5; Acts 23:1.
25, 26. (a) Where are we on the stream of time, this creating what need? (b) In response, what do we see taking place in harmony with 1 John 5:3?
25 Appreciation for God’s rulership should motivate right-hearted persons today to be responsive to His call for service. There is a need for more willing workers in God’s ever-expanding preaching and teaching organization. Standing as we are so close to the greatest happening in history, all lovers of righteousness should now act courageously, knowing that whatever course they follow will affect their prospects for everlasting life.—2 Pet. 3:11-14.
26 People by the tens of thousands from all walks of life, experience and background are coming each year to an accurate knowledge of the truth and are bringing their lives into harmony with God’s laws and regulations. It means many changes, of course—the discarding of old habits, the making of new ones. It means accepting instruction, training and education. It means learning to love and obey Jehovah. But is that so hard? The apostle John said: “For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3.
STAY FAITHFUL AND KEEP LIVING
27. Is faith all that is required to have Jehovah’s approval?
27 “My righteous one will live by reason of faith,” is the positive statement found at Hebrews 10:38. Then to that faith, the Scriptures show, one must add other things such as virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection and love. (2 Pet. 1:5-7) It is also important to put what natural abilities one has to use in the sacred service of God if one really wants to enjoy living.
28. In view of the appointments that have been made in the congregations, what should each one ask himself?
28 Some of the faithful men who have thus applied themselves are appointed to be teachers in the congregation, and as ‘shepherds of the flock of God’ they bear a heavy responsibility. These qualified teachers are needed to assist others to attain to the oneness in the faith along with accurate knowledge. (1 Pet. 5:2; 2 Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:11-13) It is Scripturally right for mature men in the congregation to reach out for this added privilege as overseers; it is “a fine work.” It is good for you to make a self-examination to see if you are moving ahead. Ask yourself, ‘Can I improve my abilities or develop any latent talents so I can be more useful in the congregation and thus live in fuller measure for God’s glory?’—1 Tim. 3:1-13.
29. How are we able to show that we value the measure of life that we individually have, and with what results?
29 It will be a satisfying feeling to know that we have been found faithful. So let us fully value and wisely use the measure of life we have, bearing righteous fruit day by day to God’s honor and praise. Whether we are new or old in the way of life, let us make it our determination to let nothing come between us and Jehovah God. God’s unbreakable love, in turn, will sustain us in our faithful course even under severe test. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Our doing all things for God’s glory will prevent us from stepping out of bounds or forsaking the well marked out way of righteousness that leads to everlasting life.
30. How can we too share in making Jehovah’s heart rejoice?
30 May our key desire ever be to maintain integrity to our faithful God and to prove that no one, not even God’s adversary the Devil, can swerve us from this course. In this way we can make Jehovah’s heart rejoice.—Prov. 27:11.
[Picture on page 536]
A captive Israelite girl showed faithfulness to Jehovah by informing the wife of Naaman about Elisha, a prophet of the true God